Random awesome invite to…Malaysia?!

This comes to me as a proper ode to serendipity. One of those moments of “buy the ticket, take the ride”…and never refuse an invitation. (At least a genuine one). Coming out of my Angkor stupor, I was surprised and warmed by an invite from the high king of prawn himself (see the Singapore prawn battle post) to join him and his lovely wife in Kuala Lumpur on this trek. I don’t travel with much of an itinerary, for exactly reasons like this.

a few days in KL? Why not?!

So off to this mega city I went.

Meeting with a local completely changes the nature of an excursion. You see elements of neighborhoods and cities that simply won’t happen from a hotel/hostel. Thank the gods my gracious hosts and I share a deep seated love of street food. The plastic table, chili sauce, Asian love variety especially. We quickly bonded over cold tiger beer and fish parts.

Kuala Lumpur is quite the eclectic mix of new and old wave migration. This city shows this at every layer, from the people on the bus to the wide range of ethnic eateries seemingly everywhere.

This city loves to SHOP, and to EAT. Malls may be dying in the states, but are booming here in the Malaysian capital.

Not one for malls, of course this left me with the option closest to my heart…the food! Kuala Lumpur, despite being a Muslim City, has divided the fun into “eating street” and “drinking street”.

Bring on the pork!!

Easy Peasy.

I came to KL with next to no expectation, on a friendly invite. What I encountered…an incredible swirl of culture, and food. Americans especially would benefit tremendously from stepping out of that comfort zone and hitting South East Asia.

A non stop mix of everything awesome. A night of absolute gastronomic debauchery. It proved quite a change to go on auto pilot for a bit. Friends here knew where to go and how to get there. I was able to relax and enjoy. From roof top beers to a sultry mix of flavors on the streets below.

KL is seemingly constantly building, rising, expanding. You can feel this vibe, or pulse through the entire place. The traffic can be brutal. Once you exhaust yourself of meat sticks and cold beer (blasphemy I know) the time has come to retreat to the highlands that ring the city. The cable cars will take you to what is now the worlds largest hotel at 5000 + rooms. The malls and shopping centers are optional, as the cooler temps and the view are what makes this a necessity.

Something about temples and rain forest in the mist…just adds that exact eastern exotic feel you’ve been looking for. Spend a day here, and enjoy.

I would never thought to cone here, or that this really existed had it not been for friends. The unexpected can be the absolute best. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this entire excursion was built with the help of friends. From Grand Rapids, to Chicago, now Kuala Lumpur and beyond. This inspires a humble smile, as none of us can go it alone. Get up, get out there, remember to check your ego at the door, don’t be an asshole and enjoy. You will marvel every single day at how amazing this world and it’s people can be.

Or crush another bag of chips from the couch and talk shit on Facebook. Your call.

I thought for sure I was headed to Laos after this…but as with all things, this has changed. I hope you’re ready for the next jump after this altogether awesome stop in Kuala Lumpur! We are in for a surprise.

Drop a comment or feel free to hit me up

Thegypsyprofessor@gmail.com

Doing it Dirty in Bangkok

When we last spoke I was looking forward to the long haul from Chicago, connecting through Shanghai and then finally onto Thailand. This was my first time flying China Eastern Air, and don’t worry, I jumped on this grenade for you…it wasn’t as bad as expected.

Now I don’t typically fly Skyteam, but when I do it’s a sub 340$ fare round trip to South East Asia. Like many of you, I would see these dirty cheap flights and be rightfully wary, but it all depends on how bad you want it.

How long was that flight?

Enough for a solid nap, 3 meals, and the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Not the extended editions)

What happens when you wrap up final exams, race to Chicago to snag your ass numbing yet fantastically cheap holiday flight to Asia?

You take a bit of a beating, but on a warm inviting weeknight in December, you find yourself dropped into the sheer assault on the senses that is Bangkok; Gateway to Southeast Asia.

No more Kansas Billy. Time to cut those ropes, abandon the safety of the harbor and prepare for a bit of the exotic.

Bangkok is big. Bangkok is loud. Bangkok is pulsing. Alive with people, traffic, aromas and tastes the city itself is damn near a living thing. The heat mixes with exhaust and street food vendors, music and hawkers, go go girls and cafe owners all of which paints such an incredible contrast to the serenity of the many awe-inspiring Buddhist temples that dot this balmy metropolis.

I get it, it’s overwhelming. For an initial run, take it easy. Breathe. Be patient. Open your mind, and embrace all the craziness you can.

And promptly take a mid day nap. (Seriously. Drink water, and nap. This will save your life)

Today found the perfect mix for me, I chose a dingy cheap spot in an outlying neighborhood with a good shower and cold AC.

My goal? Street food and the river.

meats on sticks makes the world a better place.

It’s been ten years since I last visited the Thai capitol. When I showed up here the first time, a undergraduate student with a small group, it was my very first time in Asia. I was intimidated by street food.

Let me tell you, once you take the plunge, there is no turning back. You cone to realize that with the more human the desire, the less tolerance for boredom there is. In short, life is far too short for boring food. (That goes for conversation, sex, and travels)

Abandon the Applebee’s, never look back, and thank me later.

Protein!

Open your mind and especially your tastebuds to the unknown. If anything, it at least makes for a cool party story.

Somehow it took less than 24 hours before I was back on the river

The best part about the Chao Phraya river as it’s the heart of the city is witnessing the clash of classic Thai style with the more modern developments of recent times. Of course I found a twisted yet engaging tuk tuk driver to get me there, our 20 minute voyage including pitches for “tailored suites, happy endings, and happy hours” from various local bars.

That’s life in the big city. There will many people offering suits, drinks, and hand jobs. Certainly far worse trifectas can be found.

Post river I end up among many a golden Buddha…the serenity of the city restored before back to the night markets.

Kick ass first day. I’ve landed, I’m alive and I even scored a victory or two along the way. As always, there is more to come. Thank you for all of the positive feedback thus far!

Comments are always welcome.

cheers!!